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Promotex Drop Deck Flatbed Trailer Review


Please note: The opinions expressed in our reviews are the views of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the 1/87 Vehicle Club.

model critique by Bob Johnson

One of the developments in recent years in on-highway flatbed trailers has been the increased use of use of drop deck designs. Almost all prototype flatbed trailer manufacturers offer drop deck designs. Commonly seen on the highway (depending on where you live) are drop deck trailers from Transcraft, Great Dane, Utility, East, Fontaine, Ravens, Fruehauf, Lufkin, Wilson, Western, and others. The additional 18’ in height offered by the drop deck sometimes makes a big difference in clearing overhead obstructions and in all cases lowers the center of gravity of the loaded trailer to lessen the chance of rollover incidents.

Promotex has recently introduced a pair of drop deck trailer designs that have been long sought by modelers of modern 1/87th scale highway transport trucks. These new releases fill a void in the available commercial offerings and are a welcome addition. Offered are spread axle tandem and tri-axle (tridem) versions.

As far as I know, these trailers do not adhere to any single prototype; they are what you might call a generic or “composite” design. However, I found the trailer to be dead on in most critical dimensions from the prototype information I found. The one possible exception would be the rear deck height (measured at about 46”; most specs I located were around 40.5”) but the use of available model tires would dictate that height and there may well be a prototype with comparable prototype tires.

Dimensions:
Length – 48 feet
Width – 102” (within the simulated rub rails)
Drop – 18”
Kingpin setting – 30”
Axle spread – 121” (two axle version)
Rear deck height – 46” approx.
Flooring – simulated aluminum
Wheels – 24.5”

Both models feature sparse detailing and what exists is molded into the basic body molding. Rub rails, marker light, tail and brake lights, and dock bumpers are all there: just not well defined. Also lacking are air hose and electrical connections on the nose of the trailer.

Although I did find a Ravens prototype without them, most drop deck designs have “knee braces” which are the rod or triangular braces that extend from the outer edges of the trailer to the lower edge of the main frame rails; these are not on the model and were excluded because their fragile nature.

The tandem-axle version features the commonly found optional toolboxes between the axles at the rear of the trailer and separate splashguards (mud flaps) for each axle.

Because the basic trailer is so close in most dimensions, it is a terrific starting point for super-detailing! Although the trailers are lacking depth of detail in stock form, they lend themselves to some outstanding possibilities. I’m working on a couple of trailers to which I’m adding knee braces, air tanks, air suspension, true low-profile 22.5”wheels and tires, landing gear gearbox, ratchet tie-downs, bulkhead, and lights lenses.

These are, as mentioned in the opening, very welcome additions to our trailer fleets. I would like to tip my hat to Ralph Johnson for his research and creativity and to Axel Meyer of Promotex for marketing these two new trailers. Check them out and I think you’ll see a wealth of detailing opportunities or add them to your fleet “as is”!

Bob Johnson